Synad Technologies, a Reading-based start-up, is aiming to be the first company to offer a chipset that addresses both the IEEE 802.11b and 802.11a wireless lan standards and which will allow automatic hand-off between the two.
Chipsets for 802.11b, which operates at 2.4GHz and provides a payload data rate of about 6Mbit/s, are already available. Chipsets for 802.11a, operating at 5.25GHz and offering payload data rates of about 33Mbit/s, are starting to become available, but so far nobody has yet combined the two standards in one chipset, claims Mike Baker, CEO of Synad.
Synad has also overlaid extra features on the two standards to allow seamless handover without loss of data connection. The intention is that a user could move with a wireless lan-enabled laptop or PDA from an 802.11b zone into a 802.11a zone and perform a handover from one standard to another without losing the data connection.
Synad is developing an architecture its calls AgileRF, which implements the two IEEE standards and provides the RF switching and connection hand-off to allow the non-standard roaming.
The company has taped-out on a number of chips, and is expecting to put a two-chip, all-CMOS chipset for 802.11a and 802.11b into customers' hands in early 2002.
The company also claims to have developed proprietary analogue design techniques that help it to design optimised RF and analogue circuits faster than its competitors and reduce the number of respins required to get correct RF circuits.
Baker said: "The AgileRF architecture addresses the fact that 802.11a and 802.11b are not interoperable, and because there is no evolutionary path from one standard to another means they are potentially competitive.
"At the very least, the confusion in the market by the two standards is stalling the adoption of a wireless network."
Peter Clarke is European correspondent for US sister newspaper EETimes.